Sure enough, Notre Dame was the lead story Saturday. Just not for either of the reasons we assumed.
Fighting Irish coach
All we can tell you is that USC was four yards better than Notre Dame on Saturday. Though it probably offers little consolation for forlorn Golden Domers, that ain't bad. All things considered, that might be bigger news than the following events:
1) Oklahoma quarterback
2) Purdue beat Ohio State.
3) Florida almost lost at home to Arkansas.
4) Idaho earned bowl eligibility.
5) Georgia Tech beat Virginia Tech.
Obviously, that means little to the Notre Dame players who came so close to a win for the ages.
"It's just a heartbreaker," Notre Dame quarterback
Like the Trojans or not, they belong among the elite. USC has won the Pac-10 -- a conference better than most people east of the Rockies give it credit -- for seven consecutive years. Recent history suggests the Trojans will find a way to run the table this season and make it eight. Given the tumult likely to take place in the polls Sunday and beyond, USC might even play for the national title.
The Trojans boast a true freshman quarterback who has won in Columbus and in South Bend. On Saturday,
Despite that, Notre Dame came up just four yards short. The talent gap, so wide in recent years that it seemed Touchdown Jesus was illustrating the point with his hands, has narrowed. USC still has better players, but no longer do the Trojans have the best player at every position.
All week, Weis and his players swore they had a chance. They swore this team, now completely stocked with Weis recruits, could finally break USC's stranglehold on the jeweled shillelagh. We quoted them accurately, but all but the truest Domer diehard believed USC would crank out another five-touchdown win. And when Trojans back
Then, something strange happened. Notre Dame came back. After the McKnight touchdown, Clausen marched his team 68 yards in seven plays to make it 34-20. Then, after
The defense held, and Clausen led Notre Dame down the field again. On fourth-and-10 from the 29 with 42 seconds remaining, Clausen hit
Clausen tried a lob to tight end
But it didn't. Clausen looked for receiver
Notre Dame players choked back sobs as they stood before the student section for the playing of the alma mater. Weis looked miserable. After the final note, as the players trudged toward the locker room, a group of recruits followed them. One was
Whether Weis is the coach next year is anyone's guess. Judging by Saturday's result, he seems to have the program headed in the proper direction, but his two signature games are near-misses against USC. He still doesn't have a hallmark win. If the Irish go undefeated the rest of the way, they'll play in a BCS bowl for the third time in his tenure. But the schedule isn't a cakewalk. It wouldn't shock anyone if Notre Dame lost to Boston College, Pittsburgh, Navy or Stanford.
All we know is that Weis loves a bunch of cardiac kids who turn every game into a thriller. "Anyone who doesn't realize the fight in the Fighting Irish," Weis said, "is missing the boat."